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Living expenses in Canada

by Tiffany

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Moving away from home and on your own can be a big adjustment, especially if you're from another country. How much will everything cost? Where should I live? I hope this clears up a few things for you, especially if you plan on living somewhere in Ontario.

Big City versus Little City

Downtown areas in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver will definitely be more expensive. You can always opt to rent in a more suburban (outer) part of the city. This will be cheaper and perhaps more quiet - but you won't get the same "downtown feel" and you'll have to commute a bit.
No worries, though - our urban cities have great transportation systems!
Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) region

Schools located downtown include Ryerson University and the University of Toronto. Keep in mind that the University of Toronto also has a Scarborough campus, which is located in the GTA region. Usually, large universities will have campuses in different regions. This will also affect how much you will be spending on rent. Schools in the GTA region include Humber College, Centennial College, and York University.
The average cost of rent per month in Canada: $400

I go to the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. It's a fairly small town - about 115,000 people. It has a large student community of over 20,000 students - so there's a lot of great student housing available.

I live in a 5-floor flat that was built about 3 years ago. I have 4 other roommates, 2 full bathrooms, a laundry room, a kitchen and a living space. I live off-campus. This costs me $425 a month - keep in mind I have to pay utilities on top of $425 for hydro, gas and cable. This can range from $50 to $100. My place is pretty nice, but you can find perfectly nice ones for as cheap as $300.
If you live in the downtown core of Toronto, expect to pay around $450 to $1000, and living with roommates. On average, a place right in the middle of downtown might be $650. Ask yourself the following questions:

How many roommates am I splitting the cost with?
Are we paying for T.V. cable, phone and Internet service?
How nice is the place? Is it clean?
How big is the place? How big is my room?
Does the landlord include utilities or do I have to pay for them all?
Another important question you want to ask is:
Can I trust these people?

Chances are if the place you want to rent seems to good to be true, it probably is. Be careful of people trying to scam you out of your money and out of a potential home.
On-Campus Housing versus Off-Campus Housing

You can live on the university campus (in a residence), or you can choose to rent a place.

One vital aspect of living on residence is you can always trust the university. You also have GREAT ties to clubs, activities and other students at the university. You really feel part of the whole "university experience"! You will probably meet a lot of students just like you here. Some schools offer a university residence specifically for international students. Internet service is included.

Some universities have a meal plan where you have a card filled with money and use it to buy food from university restaurants. This is really handy and convenient. Or you can choose to make meals on your own.

Other benefits of living on campus is that you're a walk away from class - so you don't to have spend money on transportation or anything like that. Everything you need is on campus.
Food. Yum Yum.

Kraft Dinner Macaroni and Cheese costs 99 cents. If you eat one box a day, you're spending only a dollar a day on food! Awesome.


A quick restaurant meal at lunch will be $4 to $10. A typical dinner meal will be $12 to $25. Don't forget snacks, drinks (both alcoholic and non) and delicious, delicious ice cream. This can all add up.

Typically, I spend about $80 a week on food - can you tell I love food? You can cook great meals from simply buying groceries and cooking your own meals - huge bags of pasta cost only $1. Add a can of tomato sauce and you're done - you can spend as little as $10 a week on food without starving to death!
Other Assorted Goodies

When you move to a new city, you'll need some new stuff to spice up your life.

Technology - Laptop, cellphone, I-Pod
Entertainment - Going out, Movies, Concerts
Personal items - Clothes, Makeup (if you're a girl…or if you're not, haha)
Furniture - A room can come furnished or you might have to buy stuff like a lamp, bookshelf, desk, bed and/or bedsheets, etc.

When it comes down to it, this stuff is all just - stuff. You don't really need it. Sure, you'll be comfortable, but if worse comes to worse, you can do without any of this junk.

A Re-cap of Your Average Living Expenses
Expense Cost per month
Rent $400
Food $200
Transportation (bus pass) $100
Entertainment $100
Cellphone package $50
Personal needs $50
Total $900
Keep in mind this is an average - you could be paying much less or much more, depending on your lifestyle and how much you can afford. It's all about priorities. You can find a part-time job, enter a paid internship or co-op program, win a scholarship, and much more!

Don't Forget Tuition

The whole reason why you're here in the first place! Average tuition in Canada is $13,985 in 2008 for international students. Again, it can be a lot more or a lot less. Don't forget fees such as club and recreation fees, student health services, gym access, etc. which are usually added on to your tuition.
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25 Comments
    RJSIIMMONS
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    RJSIIMMONSTue, 29 Jul 2014 20:21:59 -0000

    thanks for your time to write this information to us! also if u can please provide some of info about what are the basic requiremt a internation student need have when study in canada such like educational qualification and other diploma qualifications.

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    bhargava_8989
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    bhargava_8989Wed, 03 Jul 2013 09:17:24 -0000

    Suggest me the Best Universities in CANADA
    My Profile :
    Completed b.tech in 2012 with 60%
    CSE expecting 6.5 in IELTS

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    Thi91
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    Thi91Fri, 23 Nov 2012 11:06:55 -0000

    can anyone please give me some info reg part-time jobs? which province in Canada offers more opportunity for that?

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    drshyamingle
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    drshyamingleSat, 14 Jul 2012 06:19:26 -0000

    Hi, m a dentist graduated in India n seeking pg in health information management in Canada; can any1 suggest me opportunities aftr d course in Canada and India as well.
    plz reply soon

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    Hedieh
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    HediehSun, 03 Jun 2012 09:41:35 -0000

    Nice! so informative

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    justsaying
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    justsayingTue, 20 Mar 2012 16:48:24 -0000

    I think that your estimates are far too conservative and misleading. I don't know anyone in Toronto who is able to find rent for as little as $400/month. Maybe if you live in university residence, but otherwise, even if you take a room in a shared apartment, you would need to expect to pay MINIMUM $650 or $700/month. Food too is not as cheap as $200/month. Milk is $400/half gallon Cheese is 7.99/450 grams for basic cheddar. Fish is 4.50/lb for the basic choices. If you want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily, you need to budget at least $400/month and that does not include eating out. Personal needs at $50/month obviously does not include expenses such as dentist, possible prescription or over the counter drugs, vitamins, massage, hair grooming, gym memberships, etc. A gym membership alone will be $50/month. If you happen to need to purchase gym shoes or swimming goggles or anything else, your budget for personal needs is more than blown. A safer estimate for personal needs - and this again is not extravagant, is at least $200/month. Transportation - yes $100 will get you a bus pass, but if you ever need to grab a taxi or take a bus or other form of transportation, budget for that too. You could easily run into another 50-100/month. And entertainment - well my experience is that any night out will cost about $50. That would be a movie and a basic meal, no extras. IF you actually want tickets to the theatre or a music show - count on spending anywhere from $40 - $100 for the ticket alone. No beers afterwards. If you hope to enjoy entertiinment say once/week, you'd need to budget more like somewhere between 200-300/month.

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    Thi91
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    Thi91Fri, 23 Nov 2012 11:08:56 -0000

    matter-of-factly info..! great! Any idea reg part-time jobs? which province offer better in Canada?

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    kandyy
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    kandyyFri, 24 Feb 2012 05:59:40 -0000

    hey which are the best colg. in canada for master in electrical engg… pls rply and for ur info. i am from india..

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    Reduan
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    ReduanSun, 05 Feb 2012 14:52:44 -0000

    many many thanks for this lesson……

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    rayhansu
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    rayhansuSun, 15 Jan 2012 18:53:39 -0000

    is it possible for an international student in Canada to work more than 20 hours per week?
    how is the wage per hour in canada in a odd job?

    is it possible to settle in canada after finishing my study?
    is halal food(food for muslim) available in canada?

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    abhin619
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    abhin619Wed, 10 Aug 2011 16:55:12 -0000

    Very informative..A special salute for the time you spent for this

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    rahulk09
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    rahulk09Sun, 31 Oct 2010 13:55:08 -0000

    hi i am pursuing btech in mechanical engg. can u tell me abt gd colleges for ms in canada and the total expense and any kind of scholarship they offer to international students?

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    Kallum
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    KallumWed, 04 May 2011 08:57:25 -0000

    UBC, Simon Fraser, UofA, Concordia are among the best. The fee is quite low as well, but I believe the admission process will be a bottleneck. Simon Fraser charges international students the same as local students, making it the cheapest of all. More details regarding fees and scholarships will be available on their web-pages,

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    Ram_optom
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    Ram_optomWed, 28 Apr 2010 11:03:37 -0000

    great information!!

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    Maniaque
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    MustangMon, 01 Jun 2009 15:17:32 -0000

    thanks for the info
    i was dying to get straight forward answers in these matters

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    ankurcool
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    ankurcoolWed, 07 Jan 2009 03:43:16 -0000

    thanks for this lesson

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    chauhan
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    Sunil ChauhanSat, 20 Dec 2008 10:18:11 -0000

    thanks a great help for me

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    preetha
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    preethaTue, 25 Nov 2008 15:08:37 -0000

    nice !!!!!!!!

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    rifaz
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    rifaz ahamedThu, 06 Nov 2008 05:39:36 -0000

    nice lesson

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    Mei Tai
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    Mo KoSun, 19 Oct 2008 18:40:32 -0000

    Great break down!

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    Arenchiu
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    Ennya BSun, 19 Oct 2008 16:26:37 -0000

    Simple explanation but very clear! Good job!

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    abhinavslimshady2
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    abhinav sharmaSun, 19 Oct 2008 13:53:32 -0000

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    vikalp11
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    VikalpSun, 19 Oct 2008 10:30:26 -0000

    brilliant work!

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    anmolpreet
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    sherrySun, 19 Oct 2008 09:36:43 -0000

    gr8 i liked it…………

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    Amit Gaur
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    Amit GaurSun, 19 Oct 2008 05:04:04 -0000

    Hi,
    It is a great guide to students like me who want to come to Canada for studies!!
    Well done

    Amit

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    chandra_avinash
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    Avinash ChandraThu, 16 Oct 2008 10:44:37 -0000

    Nice lesson Tiff!

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    MayMay
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    May LWed, 15 Oct 2008 19:30:12 -0000

    This is a superb lesson, Tiffany! Great integration of your personal living experiences. I'd like to add that when looking for student housing, a great venue for doing so is on sublet boards. Like you mentioned, sublet boards affiliated with the school is more trustworthy. However, you may be lucky and score a great place (like I have in the past) on large-scale classified web sites, such as Craig's List and Kijiji.

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Last Updated At Jul 09, 2013
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